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How to Cut Out an Image in Photoshop

Arguably one of the best features of Adobe Photoshop is to selectively crop parts of an image. This comes in handy whether you want to add some dramatic skies behind an architectural gem or you want to crop parts of different images to make a collage. The uses of this ability are endless, but due to the number of options that you can use within Photoshop to get this done, the process gets a little confusing sometimes.

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This tutorial will hopefully be able to help you understand the difference between the tools used for this purpose, and successfully crop out parts of your images.

Understanding the Different Photoshop Tools

In order to crop out a specific area from an image in Photoshop, you can use one of the many tools at your disposal. These include Shaped Selections, Lasso, Quick Selection, Magic Wand, and Pen Tool.

  • Shaped Selections:

As the name suggests, shaped selections can help you select and crop geometric shapes quickly and effectively. The tool looks like a dotted rectangle in Photoshop’s toolbar. However, right-clicking on it will reveal that you can also make elliptical selections.

  • Lasso Tool:

The Lasso can be found right underneath the shaped selections button within Photoshop. This tool has different types that can be used to  crop photo. The first option, the Lasso, allows you to click and hold your mouse button and trace around the object you want cropped. The Polygonal Lasso is useful if you want to crop rectilinear objects. The Magnetic Lasso snaps itself around an object as you move your cursor around it, and is most helpful when you want to crop a contrasting portion of an image.

  • Quick Selection:

If you want to crop a part of an image that has clear edges, then Quick Selection can be very effective. It automatically creates selections as you move your cursor around the part of the image you want to crop out.

  • Magic Wand:

If you right-click on the Quick Selection icon in Photoshop, you can see another option termed Magic Wand. This is one of the most used options in Photoshop when it comes to selecting areas you want to crop out of images. The Magic Wand is great for quickly selecting a cluster of pixels in the same color range as the place where you click your mouse button.

  • Pen Tool:

If you want a lot of control over the area you want to crop, then Pen Tool is the one to go for. While it requires more work on your part than the others, the Pen creates Anchor Points in places of your choice around the selected area that you can later alter as you see fit.


Know Which Option To Use

After understanding the basic difference between the options you can use to crop out images, you should know which one is best in any particular situation. To demonstrate how we can crop an image using one of these tools, we are going to use a landscape photo. In this photo, we have a green hill in the foreground that we can crop out in Photoshop.

Looking at the photo, we can leave the Shaped Selections out of the equation. We would not consider the Pen Tool to crop either, as the image has too many details and using the Pen to crop it will take too much time.

The first tool that we will use to crop the image is the Lasso.

Using the Lasso to crop organic images can be frustrating, however, as it requires very precise cursor movement. The second choice that may seem to be the obvious one to crop the picture is the Magic Wand.

However, since there is a lot of chromatic detail in the hill, the Magic Wand cannot select the foreground to be cropped very easily.

So the last option for cropping the image is Quick Selection.

We can see that Quick Selection very quickly and effectively selects the whole foreground to be cropped. If there are parts in the selection that you don’t want to crop out, simply hold down the alt key and click on these portions of the image.

The Actual ‘Crop’ is Easy

Once you have selected the part of the image you want to crop out in Photoshop, most of the work is done. Simply click on the selected part, hold down the mouse button, and drag this portion away from the main image to crop it out.

If you want to crop out the background from an image in Photoshop, all you have to do is select the background instead of the foreground and press Delete. You can also remove the background if you have selected the foreground instead, like in our sample image. This can be done by going to Select - Inverse and then pressing Delete.


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